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Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight


Bailey Perkins

Class of 2014 - Master of Public Administration, Public Policy Concentration
Legislative Assistant and Special Projects Coordinator, U.S. House of Representatives

 

What is something interesting about your position?

I truly enjoy learning about issues facing Oklahomans and advising our office on policies that can make a difference. 

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

Put more effort on leaving with skills from the classes you take and less on making the perfect grade. Grades are important, but so is being equipped with the foundational tools and the problem-solving skills to do the work. In addition to your classwork, don't forget the supplemental necessities that set you up for success like authentic relationship building.  My education gave me the foundation I need to do this work, but my experiences gave me the tools to navigate public service and issue advocacy. My mentors helped me to expand my perspectives, hone my soft skills, and connect with the right people and opportunities to help me grow. I also encourage students to be intentional with their time. Yes, make time for the internships, volunteer on a campaign for someone that you believe in, and meet people who do the work that you aspire to do. But don't stretch yourself thin because you can't do everything and do it well. Do what you love, do what pushes you, and do what moves you in the right direction. There isn't a set path to advocacy, government work, or other forms of public service. Find the journey that best fits your skills, talents and time. 


John Woods

Class of 2000 - Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Executive Director of Government Affairs for the University of Oklahoma

 

What is something interesting about your position?

I oversee federal, state, municipal and tribal relations to advance the mission of OU with our government partners.

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

My degree in political science established a base line of theory and thought that has assisted me immensely over my career. There are a multitude of opportunities within the field of political science. Most come through establishing relationships within your areas of interest. It is never too early to begin creating those opportunities through internships, networking and volunteer work. Find a mentor and glean from the experience of others.


Daniel Pae

Class of 2017 - B.A. Political Science and Economics, Master of Public Administration
Oklahoma State Representative for House District 62 

 

What is something interesting about your position?

I am currently the youngest Oklahoma state representative.

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

Seek mentors who will help you become a better leader and thinker. I’ve always remembered about the importance of having intellectual curiosity and humility. And finally, apply for internships at the local, state and federal levels to learn more about the governing process. 

Photographing happy people since 2006

Kuhika Gupta

Class of 2013 - Ph.D. in Political Science, focusing on Public Policy & Comparative Politics
Research Scientist at the Center for Energy, Security, and Society

 

What is something interesting about your position?

The Center for Energy, Security, and Society is a joint center between the University of Oklahoma and Sandia National Laboratories. My research focuses on energy and environmental policy and my position at CES&S gives me an opportunity to work with large interdisciplinary teams of physical scientists, engineers and social scientists to tackle some of the complex issues that we face as a society, such as safely managing and storing nuclear waste. I never thought that I would have to learn the basics of nuclear physics and radioactive contamination when I was working on my Ph.D. in Political Science!

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

In addition to finding your research topic of interest, finding a mentor for guidance and a set of peers for active collaboration is key to becoming a successful academic and/or policy analyst. 


David Oakley

Master of Public Administration, 2005
Army Lieutenant Colonel and Assistant Professor at College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University

 

What is something interesting about your position?

In my current job, I direct the college's Homeland Defense Fellowship Program. Another interesting item is my book, Subordinating Intelligence: The DoD/CIA Post-Cold War Relationship, was recently released by the University Press of Kentucky.

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

I never imagined my career path when I entered the Army over 20 years ago. Stereotypes and expectations about the military often ignore the vast diversity and the professional opportunities offered within the military. The country benefits when a diverse population drawn from all segments of society serve in the military. I encourage all political science students interested in public policy take a look at the opportunities a military career has to offer. I think you will be surprised by both the diversity of people and opportunities. 


Edgar Zamora

Class of 2018 - Master of Arts in Political Science
Research Analyst at Big Bend Community College (Moses Lake, Washington)

 

What is something interesting about your position?

The data we compile and analyze is viewed by everyone on campus in some way from president to student employees.

What advice would you give to current students wanting to go into your field?

The advice I would give students wanting to go into research analytics is to have a strong background in coding and/or programming. The first step I would recommend is for everyone to take the Introduction & Intermediate- Analysis Political Data courses taught in the department. These courses are a great foundation for anyone interested in entering this field. With data analysis being a competitive market, I would also recommend students learn other computer languages and programs other than R, which is what was taught in the introductory courses. Two programs/languages to learn that a lot of the industry is using is Tableau and SQL. Any exposure to these will prove very beneficial when applying to jobs.

Most of all I would say is follow your passion and don't think because you obtain a degree in certain area you are limited to working in that area. I would not have imagined that I would be working with data on a daily basis when I began graduate school studying political science.